Meet The 'New' In New Media Consumer

A couple weeks ago, I was forwarded a copy of a white paper done by Mr. Youth and Rep Nation titled "Consumer 2.0: Five Rules To Engaging Today's Consumers."   The study is certainly worth a read if you're tasked with the increasingly difficult assignment of reaching a market that has grown up with new media rules. The paper focuses on five trends: Authenticity trumps celebrity, niche is the new norm, bite size communication dominates, personal utility drives adoption, and consumers own brands.


Rather than rewrite the whole report, I will simply suggest that you take a look for yourself, especially at the questions posed toward the end. While I believe different readers will interpret these questions very differently, they are a good first step in evaluating your social media strategy -- and everybody needs a first step.

What I want to focus on here is the common thread when you look at all of the rules set out by the paper. It really breaks down all of the implications of more and more control being grasped by individual people (aka consumers). Look at all five rules from the perspective of putting more power in the hands of individual people: People control the ability to influence peers as much as, if not more than, celebrities. People demand relevance from brands looking to enter highly niched communities. People want to consume and share conveniently sized messages. People adopt what is most personally useful to them. (I would argue this applies not only to products, but messages as well. More on this in a second). People will define your brand.



All this adds up to what we hear at conferences again and again. People (aka consumers) are in control. Great. What else is new since the remote control? But marketers who read Mr. Youth's paper with a slightly different mindset can begin to see the beginnings of a plan for how to address this radical shift.

Since people have always been in control of what they buy, brands have always been tasked with making products people want to buy. To do this, marketers conducted a fair amount of market research. They tested a product. They refined the product. And then they distributed the product to make it as easy as possible for people to buy. So here is the not-so-brilliant, board-line-obvious, revelation, for the week: Treat your message like a product.

When I talk about a marketers' message, it can take many forms. It could be any piece of branded content that you want people to consume and redistribute. You need people to want to hear your message, to "buy" and share your brand message, because they are in control. So why wouldn't you go through the steps you take to launch a product? This means test your message, listen to feedback regarding your message, distribute your message and make it easy for people to get and share your message. And above all, iterate your message and support dialogue surrounding your message.

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